Nets guard Ben Simmons last took to the hardwood in an NBA game on June 20, 2021, as a member of the 76ers. That was Game 7 of Philadelphia’s second-round playoff series defeat to the Hawks.
But that’s now expected to change, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Game 4 of the Nets’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics is being targeted as a realistic return date for Simmons. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Boston currently leads the series 1-0. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night at the TD Garden in Boston.
A return in Game 3 on Saturday hasn’t been ruled out, but Simmons would have more hurdles to clear to be ready to play.
Simmons, 25, requested a trade from the 76ers over the offseason and didn’t suit up in any games this season, citing mental health issues. It was then reported that Simmons had a herniated disk in his lower back, which he’s been recovering from since being acquired by the Nets in February. He was cleared Monday and has been getting 4-on-4 work in with his teammates.
Head coach Steve Nash, however, has declined to say definitively that Simmons will return during the playoff series against Boston.
“There’s no other way than him to say, ‘I’m ready,'” Nash said Wednesday. “Especially after an absence this long. So whenever he is ready, it’s going to have to be on him to say, ‘I feel comfortable. I feel ready to go. I want to play and I want to contribute.’
“We can’t push him places when you have been out this long. It’s got to be something where he is definitely comfortable and ready to play.”
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